1004 N Killingsworth St., 503-206-4252, saraveza.com. 11 am-midnight daily. Happy hour 4-6 pm daily: $1 off drafts.
Established: October 2008
Since opening her Badger-proud beer bar eight years ago, Sarah Pederson had wanted to serve cheese curds. Aside from being one of the city's best beer bars and bottle shops, Saraveza is a hot spot for the city's Packers faithful. Now, the 'Vez finally has white, squeaky cheese fried in an airy batter to pair with its Lambeau Leaps. It took a massive kitchen renovation and the hiring of Dustin Gettmann, a veteran of Pok Pok NY and Pfriem, where he helped prepare what's been the state's best brewpub grub. Gettmann, who worked for Saraveza in its early days, wants to turn this "bottle shop and pasty tavern" into a proper gastropub.
In the newly reopened space, the delightfully kitschy barroom looks pretty much the same. The chalkboard beer list has been enlarged, but the lineup has the same peerless quality we've come to expect (like the wonderful AleSmith Vietnamese coffee stout and an excellent cloudy IPA from Block 15 on our visit). The food menu, meanwhile, has been overhauled—the squeaky cheese is just the tip of the iceberg. There's still fancy Chex mix and soft pretzels, but there's also a charcuterie board ($15) with local sausages, cherry jam and mostarda, a radicchio salad ($10) and a smoked brisket sandwich ($12). The buttermilk fried chicken ($15) with creamy mashed potatoes and a rich, herby tarragon gravy impressed us most of all. It is, Pederson says, the spot she always wanted to run. It also happens to be the sort of beer bar we're really excited to have.
Bar story: When Liquor.com decided to list the 173 bars that matter most in 2America, little Saraveza was the only Portland spot that made the list.